The Greeks – Crucible of Civilisation – Paul Cartledge

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An unusual approach is taken here by Cartledge, a respected scholar of ancient history at the University of Cambridge. A companion volume to a PBS series that aired this month, the book doesn't offer a chronologically anchored narrative of the ancient Greek city states. Rather, the book's 15 chapters focus on the lives of individuals, some well-known to us from history, literature and art: Sappho, Pericles, Socrates, Alexander the Great. Cartledge's main achievement is bringing to our attention others who have been familiar mostly to scholars: Artemisia (a woman who fought on the Persian side in the Persian Wars), Pasion (a money-changer), Neaera (a courtesan). Cartledge personalizes ancient Greek history by using this biographical material to introduce the reader to broader aspects of life in ancient Greece. The focus is primarily social-historical, but the book also connects with such grand military/political events as the Peloponnesian War and the conquests of Alexander the Great. Easy to read and even jaunty in style, this volume also provides an abbreviated time line, a necessary aid for those unfamiliar with the chronology of Greek history, as well as a thoughtful introduction and suggestions for further reading.

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Excellent, Hardback